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Home: Surnames: McSweeney Family Genealogy Forum

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Posted by: Len Keane (ID *****4741) Date: July 03, 2003 at 12:28:37
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The purpose of this study is to determine relationships among various KEANE, O'CAHAN, O'KANE, KANE, etc., families in Ireland. In time, the study may resolve the traditional claimed descent of several of these families from the Ui NEILL of Ulster through descendants of CATHAIN (about 800 A.D.), the eponymous ancestor of the O'CAHAN "Warrior Clan of Ulster", sub-kings under O'NEILL.

I claim such a descent via an O'CAHAN (later Kean/Keane) who settled in Co. Clare, Ireland about 1525. I have a very complete genealogical record connecting about 800 AD with the Ui NEILL lineage, traditionally as its senior cadet branch, and continuing through early historical times to King Niall "of the Nine Hostages" (living 400 AD).

Families bearing any variant of the KEANE/KANE surname tracing to the following counties in Ireland are especially urged to participate: Any County in the Province of Ulster; also Co. Kerry; Co. Cork; Co. Clare; Co. Galway; Co. Kildare. and Co. Waterford.

This Project will concentrate on the KEANE/KANE and O'NEILL surnames but, in order to verify the accuracy of the ancient annals, it encourages the participation of other variations and surnames traditionally held to descend in direct male line from King Niall of Ulster.

Because some Irish research such as the KEANE/OCATHAIN study involves relationships among numerous surnames, each traditionally descended in the male-line from a larger clan group (UiNEILL, in this case), it is theoretically possible to obtain matches, or near matches, of the Y-Chromosome among persons with different surnames whose most recent common male-line ancestor may have branched off from the larger clan many centuries ago. For this reason, Irish DNA surname test results may differ from most other DNA surname test results. A positive aspect of Irish DNA genealogical studies is the fact that the more common Irish surnames (often the most prominent ancient Gaelic families and royal dynasties able to provide for junior branches) are still concentrated in their ancient territories. This could greatly enhance the likelihood of linking a present-day family with one of these long-established ancestral lines.

Families having a traditionally-claimed descent form the UiNEILL of Ulster include, among others, and all variations:


Only males carry the Y-chromosome, thus only males with no adoptions or changes of surname in their known ancestry can participate in the project.

After researching several firms offering genealogical DNA analysis, I have decided to employ the services of Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) which uses the laboratory facilities of the University of Arizona.

I'm very much impressed with the information that can be gleaned from a simple, painless swab of the inner cheek. I am convinced that DNA-genealogy is the wave of the future and will soon become a necessary factor in support of the paper trail compiled by traditional genealogical methodology. In the case of persons surnamed KEANE/KANE, etc., through analysis of the male Y-Chromosome, the simple test will be able to identify families descended from the Ulster OCathains and/or from any family allegedly descended from King Niall "of The Nine Hostages" (living ca. 400 AD). One result of this Project would be to verify, or in some cases disprove, the family affiliations claimed in the ancient Irish annals.

Mismatches of up to three markers out of 25 would indicate normal "mutations" which often occur in long lineages and could approximate the number of generations ago that a branch family might have separated from a common ancestor. Because only males carry the Y-Chromosome, only males without any known adoptions or changes of surname in their direct male-line may participate in the Project. It would be most helpful if participants would provide me with a brief family tree back to at least their male-line grandfather, with an indication of his family's last known place of origin.

This study in no way whatsoever infringes on one's personal health information or family privacy. On this matter, please review the "Privacy" section on the FTDNA website. I urge you to access FTDNA on-line at -:

I'm sure you will find most of your questions addressed at this site. I have been able to obtain a very competitive group rate for Project participants. The 25 Marker-Plus test is recommended and is capable of a high degree of accuracy in identifying individual matches within surnames. In the case of Irish clan families such as OCathain of Ulster, close matches are expected for members of all surnames traditionally descended from a common MALE-line ancestor.

Please contact me if you want to participate. I am prepared to answer any questions you may have.

Leonard M. Keane, Jr.
Convener of The OCathain (O'Cahan) Society
16 Pleasant Street
Wakefield, Massachusetts 01880

TEL: 781-245-4153

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